This was a bubbly holiday season for me– I received several bottles of champagne as gifts, and so decided to invite some friends over for champagne cocktails once we were all settled back into our normal post-holiday lives. We tried the “Killing me Softly” cocktail from The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion. The mix of absinthe and St. Germain makes for a lovely cocktail that is neither too sweet nor too herbaceous.
Killing Me Softly
- 1 cube sugar
- 1 teaspoon absinthe
- 1/2 ounce St. Germain
- 4 ounces champagne
- 1 thin slice lemon
Add the sugar cube to a martini glass or chamagne flute. Chill the absinthe and St. Germain in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into the glass. Top with champagne. Lightly squeezer the lemon slice and float it on top of the cocktail.
Although I didn’t get it together to do much gardening this summer, as evidenced by the sad little cucumber plant that’s been languishing since mid-June, many of my friends did, and towards the end of the summer I got to enjoy the literal fruits of their labors as they’ve dropped off the last of the season’s bounty. All at once, I had a bunch of tomatoes that demanded to be used in a short amount of time. I sliced them and ate them raw, I broiled them and put them over pasta, I incorporated them into fried pies, and still there were some left. I remembered a recipe I’d seen for tomato butter somewhere, but couldn’t find it, so I decided to approximate it on my own.
This mixture of butter, tomatoes, garlic and salt is de-freaking-licious. You can spread it on toasted bread for a tomatoey garlic bread, you can add a teaspoon to cooked pasta, meat, fish or veggies for flavor, or you can sauté just about anything you’d want to sauté in it. It’s easy and versatile and I highly recommend it.
melted tomato butter on bread
In a food processor, pulse 1 stick of butter, 1 chopped tomato, 2 cloves of garlic and salt to taste.
For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity Page.
One of the reasons that I love cocktails is that they’re fancy and delicious without being overly sweet (depending on which cocktails you choose to make, of course). The alcohol or bitters or tonic is a nice way to balance the natural sweetness of fruit juice or the sugar in something like a simple syrup. But I often find myself wanting something to sip on that isn’t alcoholic, yet still possesses the balance of sweet/tart/strong that a cocktail has. I love Kombucha, which is both uncloyingly sweet and tart and effervescent, but dude, that stuff is pricey.
I was thinking about this conundrum the other day and remembered reading about shrubs, or “drinking vinegars.” Basically, shrubs are vinegars that have been infused with fruit and sometimes sugar, which you can drink with sparkling water for a sweet and tart sparkling beverage. I decided to try this with some Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which, if you believe the customer reviews on Amazon, will cure a laundry list of ailments, from dandruff to allergies to problems with sleeping, and some fresh peaches. It’s an acquired taste to be sure, and the taste is definitely more vinegar than peach, but I love the uber-tartness of it when I dilute it with some sparkling water. My sweetheart, on the other hand, can’t stand the stuff. Give it a shot and see what you think.
vinegar and peaches, mid-infusion
- 1 pound peaches
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 10 to 20 fresh basil leaves
- Halve, pit, and cut the peaches into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium, nonreactive bowl.
- Add the sugar and toss until the peaches are thoroughly coated and most of the sugar has dissolved. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days, checking after 1 day to make sure that all the sugar on the bottom has dissolved. (If the sugar hasn’t dissolved, toss again.)
- Add the vinegar and basil and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 7 to 10 days.
- Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the peach mixture, pressing on it with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to extract all of the liquid; discard the contents of the strainer. Transfer the peach shrub to a pint jar or container, cover with a tightfitting lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Drink with sparkling water over ice.
For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.
A friend recently game me some rhubarb juice to experiment with, which made me very happy because I friggin love all things rhubarb. I decided to pair it with bourbon, mostly because that’s what we had on hand, but also because I thought the earthy tartness of the rhubarb would work well with bourbon. And I think I was right. This drink is tart and a little sweet, with a kick. Shawn and I enjoyed sipping them on the porch.
- 2 oz rhubarb juice
- 1 oz bourbon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- sparking water or ginger ale
Pour rhubarb juice, bourbon, and lemon into a glass of ice and stir. Top with sparkling water or ginger ale if you want to add some sweetness.
To Make Rhubarb Juice:
- Chop washed rhubarb into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces.
- Place chopped rhubarb in a large, non-reactive, pan.
- Add just enough water to cover the rhubarb, bring to a boil, and then simmer on “low” until rhubarb is soft, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain the mixture through a very fine sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract the juice.
- If you want to sweeten the juice, do so by adding about 1/4 cup of granulated sugar for each 2 lbs. of rhubarb.
For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity Page.
We spent this past weekend at a viking-themed festival that friends of ours throw every year, and we were encouraged to bring infused spirits. Obviously inclined to oblige, I decided to make a recipe my friend David shared in the comments section of a vodka infusion post I did a few years back. His recipe for “Polish Fire Vodka” sounded like the perfect viking libation to sip around a campfire. And it was. Though the flavors of cinnamon and clove remind me of fall and holiday seasons, it worked well for a late summer drink, too.
Krupnik (Polish Fire Vodka)
- Up to 1 1/2 cups quality honey (I tend to use less)
- 2/3 cups water
- Cinnamon sticks – 1 or 2
- Cloves – 2-3
- Black peppercorn – 4-5
- 1/4 tsp (or so) nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
- 2-3 strips lemon peel (not too much pith- use your vegetable peeler and be gentle)
- 1-2 dried red chiles (Thai hot peppers are nice)
Bring just to the boil. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool.
Add one bottle Schmirnoff vodka. Stick it in the fridge and forget about it for a couple of weeks. Strain out the solids, if desired.
For more recipes like this one, check out the domesticity page.
It’s long past spring, but this weekend my friend and I decided we wanted something fancy to sip whilst we sat on the porch, so I decided to make a Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail I’d seen in Martha Stewart’s Living. According to Martha:
Lillet Rose, a fortified-wine blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Muscatel, has the aroma of flowers and ripe berries — perfect for a springtime aperitif.
Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail (makes 3)
- 12 ounces Lillet Rose
- 12 ounces Ruby Red grapefruit juice (I used fresh juice from yellow grapefruits)
- 6 ounces gin
Combine 6 ounces Lillet, 6 ounces grapefruit juice, 3 ounces gin, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain and divide cocktail among 3 stemmed cocktail glasses (or just plain old drinking glasses, in our case). Repeat. Serve.
I embroidered this little Iowa pillow for a fellow Iowa-loving friend’s birthday, and I think it turned out pretty durn cute, if I do say so myself (and I suppose I just did).